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In today’s society, it is difficult not to utilize technology on a daily basis. This is especially true for someone […]

In today’s society, it is difficult not to utilize technology on a daily basis. This is especially true for someone with a disability. The amount of assistive technology (AT) available today is phenomenal, ranging from electric wheelchairs to academic software programs. It is overwhelming to someone new to the field or to an individual just starting to look at options. So where do you start? Right here!

There are three different ways to get the information you need: Internet, rehabilitation facilities and written publications. Most likely, you will need a combination of the three to adequately become verbose in the language and options available today.

Written Publications:

Computer and Web Resources for Persons with Disabilities (Book)
The goal of the book is to allow you to answer questions for yourself. The book provides product descriptions and ideas for where to find equipment. There is other useful information such as an introduction to assistive technology, a website listing, and stories about users. It is rich in resources for exploring technology to enhance your life.

A Family’s Guide to Assistive Technology (Book)
This guide is intended to help parents learn more about assistive technology and how it can help their child. Parents have a much better chance of getting what their child needs if they are involved in selecting the technology and planning for its use. This guide helps make sense of the processes for acquiring assistive technology and provides the tools to advocate for a child’s needs. It includes tips for getting started, ideas about where to look for money, and suggestions on what to do when applying for funding. It is also useful to teachers as an introduction to assistive technology issues.

Closing the Gap (Newsletter)
Getting up to date information on a regular basis is important to stay abreast of the latest developments in the field. Closing the Gap is published six times per year with pertinent information regarding assistive technology. The newsletter includes reviews, stories, vendor advertisements, tips, calendar of events, and much more. Additionally, Closing the Gap hosts a yearly conference which is one of the best in the nation. There is a fee to participate; however, on saturday the exhibit is open to the public.

Websites to Visit:

www.AbleData.com
Able Data is an extensive database of information along with many articles on assistive technology. As a user, you enter search criteria such as “voice-activated television remote” then the search engine will provide you with a product name, description, and contact information about possible products. It is user-friendly and extremely beneficial in quickly finding options. It is updated routinely which makes the information more valuable. There are numerous links to other website on a variety of topics such as higher education and accessible housing.

Assistive Technology Training Online Project (ATTO)
http://atto.buffalo.edu/registered/ATbasics.php
This website provides a variety of information including: AT Basics, Tutorials on a variety of products, AT Decision Making and Resources. The AT Basics can provide a good overview for someone new to AT. The tutorials can be useful to staff members who need to learn specific features and operating information on individual assistive technology.

Ability Hub
http://www.abilityhub.com/
Ability Hub is organized categorically providing a range of information on different types of technology. You have the choice of clicking on a disability or a type of technology for the website to generate a list of options. Additionally, there are reviews, links to other sites, and articles worth reading.

Microsoft Accessibility Page
http://www.microsoft.com/enable/
Microsoft puts a lot of effort into making their products and website accessible to all. They have included simple adaptations in their operating system located in the control panel. Their website gives information on how to utilize these internal tools. It also provides much more: There are links to other sites: information regarding adapting your computer; case studies; a free online newsletter; articles; and disability-related information.

It is now time for you to begin your search for new and exciting assistive technology. There is a wealth of information available to you. However, remember that it is important to test out the adaptive equipment first before spending money toward a product which does not meet your needs. Many local facilities such as Courage Center provide assessment and training. A professional can assist you in making the right decision. Just look around and you will be amazed at what you can find. Patience is required in finding a solution and learning it. Afterwards, new opportunities and possibilities will appear before your eyes.